15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Perception of Speaker Age, Sex and Vowel Quality Investigated Using Stimuli Produced with an Articulatory Model

Hartmut Traunmüller (1), Anders Eriksson (1), Lucie Ménard (2)

(1) Stockholms Universitet, Sweden
(2) Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada

This paper deals with the perception of linguistic and paralinguistic qualities conveyed by synthetic vowels produced with an articulatory model in which transfer functions of the French vowels /i y e o ɛ oe/ characteristic of five growth stages were each combined with five different F0 values. Listeners had to judge the speaker's age and sex in addition to vowel quality. Four subgroups of listeners were distinguished, according to sex and frequency of contact with children. The results were subjected to regression analysis based on critical band rate (z) and logarithmic values of F0, F1 to F5 and calculated values of F2'. This showed Z1 -0.6 Z0 to correlate highly with vowel openness and 0.8 Z4 -Z3 with roundedness in addition to Z2'. F0 and the formants above F1 contributed equally to age perception. There were slight but significant differences between listener groups and there was a tendency to perceive vowels as produced by a younger speaker when perceived as rounded - older when not. This can be understood as due to a choice listeners have in interpreting lower formants as due to liprounding or a permanently longer vocal tract indicative of a higher age.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Traunmüller, Hartmut / Eriksson, Anders / Ménard, Lucie (2003): "Perception of speaker age, sex and vowel quality investigated using stimuli produced with an articulatory model", In ICPhS-15, 833-836.